Great Pottery Throw Down star: 'Individuality is what inspires me'
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
If lockdown has been great for one thing, it’s been helping people discovering new hobbies - with many picking up a new interest in arts and crafts to help pass the time during the pandemic.
But Suffolk man says he has long understood the joy, peace and tranquility that pottery can bring.
Meet Henry Moore, a Bury St Edmunds-based ceramic artist. Readers may however recognise him from the most recent series of Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throw Down which aired on our screens earlier this year.
The 25-year-old, who placed sixth on the show, explains how he first got stuck into the pastime that eventually catapulted him to TV fame.
“I got into it back when I was at university – and while I was never taught how to throw, I learnt the theories and basics of ceramics work,” he says.
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Henry then taught himself how to throw pottery in his third year of university, and it’s been his passion ever since.
But what is it about the art form that he loves so much?
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“I like how it’s so therapeutic and expressive. I find it’s quite meditative too, in terms of how much physical focus you need to have during the whole process.
“There are also so many facets to pottery work, such as the chemistry of glazing, how to fire your creations, and all of the processes in between. It can be super challenging, and I like that.”
His makes are incredibly eye-catching, utilising a variety of mediums and techniques including spikes, feathers and even pet fur - but how does he come up with such creative and one-of-a-kind designs?
“The feeling of individuality is what inspires me. I want to make pieces that people want to use and have in their homes, but I also want them to express that sense of uniqueness.”
From mugs and jugs, to bowls, Henry’s handmade creations allow the owner to get the best of both worlds. “They’re functional pieces of homeware - but they can also be that statement art piece as well,” he adds.
Such an avid ceramicist, Henry has also spent time teaching the art to people from all walks of life, keen to spread the joy that he’s gotten from the hobby himself.
“I grew up teaching gymnastics and trampolining to kids and adults, so I fell into teaching pottery workshops quite naturally,” he explains.
Henry currently teaches from Pennikkity Pots in Ipswich, and is in the process of setting up his own studio.
“I also do external workshops in schools and universities, so I’m just spreading myself out there and trying to get as many people into pottery as possible.”
But it was his recent television stint that saw Henry thrown into the spotlight.
Originally hesitant to apply, he ultimately gave in and put himself forward before receiving a callback from producers – becoming one of 12 contestants on The Great Pottery Throw Down.
“The whole process was really exciting, and quite a life-changing experience.”
Henry soon found himself pottering on national television, watched by millions of viewers every week. But did it differ much to teaching classes in front students?
“Normally, my pottery time is very solitary, so to suddenly be in a room with 11 other potters that are all doing it at the same time – with six or seven cameras on you – and people asking you questions the whole time, it’s quite disorientating. It’s incredibly distracting and makes it hard to focus on what you’re doing – which is probably why I made so many silly mistakes!
“But it does teach you how to apply your focus in the right areas at the right time, so I think it was a good learning experience nonetheless. I also think being on the show has given me a bit of exposure and notability. People now know I’m around here in Suffolk, offering classes, and I think shows like The Great Pottery Throw Down open people’s eyes to what’s around them locally.”
It comes as no surprise that pottery has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years, especially thanks to the ongoing lockdown fuelling people’s curiosity when it comes to trying out new skills and hobbies.
“I think before, it was seen as this elitist industry, or this craft that you couldn’t get into unless you had studied it for ages, but ceramics are a lot more accessible than people think.
“Even though I couldn’t teach anyone during lockdown, I still spent my time pottering away. The fact it’s so time-consuming and all-encompassing, it really does help you take your mind off the traumas of the world, so you can really focus on all of the things that are important to you.”
If all of this has convinced you and you’d like to give it a go yourself, how do you go about getting your foot in the door?
“I think the first step would be to look around for a class and to just go straight for it. Find a local potter and just drop them an email to find out what they offer.”
Alternatively, why not simply buy a bag of clay and start sculpting at home? Henry says you don’t even need a wheel or tools – you can start making by hand with just the clay, some water, and a sponge.
“Once you’ve made what you want, try finding some potteries around you. They’re quite hidden, but they’re there. Why not ask if you can rent their kiln space, or see if they will fire some things for you? But if you want some direction, find a class where you can take your first step on your ceramics journey. You won’t regret it.”